Today Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-01, establishing the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission. Similar to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission will be composed of nine Kansans—five legal professionals and four public members. The commissioners should represent diverse, bipartisan and geographically balanced backgrounds. The Commission will be charged with vetting and recommending applicants for Court of Appeals vacancies prior to the Governor submitting an appointment to the Senate for confirmation. Governor Kelly has also appointed Linda Parks of Wichita, Kan., to serve as chair of the Commission.
“In Kansas we appoint judges not because of who they know or what they believe, but because of their merit,” Kelly said. “That means our judges have proven their character, their understanding of the law, and their commitment to the cause of justice. Nonpartisan, merit-based selection has served the state well. The Court of Appeals Nominating Commission will continue those efforts, and I am confident that the nominees it selects for my consideration will represent the best Kansas has to offer.”
Under Kansas law, the Governor appoints judges to the Court of Appeals subject to confirmation by the Senate. This executive order does not change that process and is consistent with that law. The order establishes a uniform method for the Governor’s appointments to the Court of Appeals and empowers an independent, nonpartisan group of both lawyers and non-lawyers to select finalists for appointment by the Governor according to merit. The Court of Appeals Nominating Commission will accept all applications for Court of Appeals vacancies, review each applicant’s background and qualifications, conduct interviews, and then submit three nominees for the Governor to consider.
The executive order requires the Governor to appoint at least one lawyer or retired judge and one non-lawyer to represent each congressional district. After serving their initial term, commissioners will be limited to serving no more than two, four-year terms. The Governor also appoints an attorney or retired judge to serve as chair.
“As an experienced lawyer, as a leader in the Kansas bar community, and as an active member of the Wichita community, Linda is an ideal person to lead this Commission, especially as it starts its work from scratch with an appointment to be made this legislative session,” Kelly said. “I’m confident she and the rest of the Commission are committed to doing the hard work of selecting nominees for the Court of Appeals and doing it right.”
“I thank Governor Kelly for the trust she is putting in me and the Court of Appeals Nominating Commission,” Parks said. “The 14 judges who serve on the Court of Appeals make important decisions that affect the everyday lives of Kansans. We will do our best to identify judges who represent the best of our state and will enforce her laws in a fair and impartial manner.”
Additional appointments to the Commission will be announced soon. The Commission will begin working immediately to select three nominees to fill the vacancy that will be created by the April 3, 2020 retirement of Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr. Applications to fill the Court of Appeals vacancy that have already been submitted to the Governor’s Office will be forwarded to the Commission for consideration. Additional applicants for the Court of Appeals vacancy should contact JudicialApplications@ks.gov for details on submitting application materials. The Commission will accept applications through February 7, 2020.